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Airbnb fueling landlord/tenant disputes across the country

Staying at hotels while traveling is becoming less and less common as popular companies like Airbnb help homeowners and renters temporarily rent out spare rooms. On the surface, this might seem like an obvious solution for people in Michigan who have an extra room and need a few extra dollars, but there are serious issues with the increasingly popular practice. Distinct landlord/tenant issues have risen as tourists continue to search for bargain places to stay.

Landlords are especially hesitant to jump on board with the practice of apartment renters going on to rent out their spare rooms or entire apartment spaces. Safety is one of their most commonly cited concerns, while an increase in traffic and activity is usually close behind. There is also the question of whether the practice is even legal for most renters, as the vast majority of apartment leases already strictly prohibit tenants from subletting, which includes the types of short-term rentals that Airbnb typically offers.

Need to avoid probate? Trusts might be the solution

Most first-time estate planners in Michigan begin the process with the most basic and essential tool -- the will. While wills often act as the structure that holds up an estate plan, they are far from the only useful documents. Trusts offer a wide range of uses that can help fill in the gaps that wills cannot necessarily cover, including the added benefits of avoiding probate and possible tax exemptions.

Probate can be an essential aspect of the estate administration process, especially when an individual passes away without leaving behind any type of estate plan. However, it can be an expensive and lengthy process that makes an estate a matter of public record. Privacy for certain assets can be important, and in some instances, entire inheritances can be passed on via a trust rather than a traditional will.

Don't leave real estate transactions to chance -- we can help

Many real estate owners in Michigan prefer to handle issues with their property by themselves. While this type of perseverance is undoubtedly a valuable asset in the real estate business, there are certain matters that are best addressed under the careful guidance of those who have dedicated years to amassing knowledge on the matter. Whether faced with tricky real estate transactions or unexpected zoning issues, property owners need to make sure that they have the right help on their side.

Real estate is one of the most valuable assets that many people will ever own, making any transaction involving property a delicate matter. In ideal situations, both the owner and the buyer will agree with the appraised value of the property, the lender's paperwork will be coordinated on time, and the negotiating of the sales agreement will be minimal. However, ideal situations rarely transcribe into reality. Disputes during this process can have profound impacts on the transaction and potentially leave one or both parties short changed.

Real estate litigation needs the right guidance -- we can help

Issues involving buying and selling property in Michigan can be complex and even result in lawsuits. Real estate litigation can cover a wide range of disputes whose outcomes can be of profound importance. When it comes to addressing a serious dispute in real estate, going it alone is usually not advisable.

Opposing claims to property can be especially troubling for owners. These often arise after a person has passed away and left a property to a certain family member. However, improper transactions and unrecorded easements can also lead to this type of dispute. The vast majority of property owners hope for a quiet and cost effective solution to remove these opposing claims, and we have helped many of our Michigan clients accomplish this.

Landlord/tenant dispute: Carbon monoxide in home a risk

In any relationship between a landlord and a tenant, there are standards that must be met to ensure the health and welfare of the occupants of a rental property. Some Michigan landlords do not honor these protocols, putting the lives of tenants at risk. A recent landlord/tenant dispute involves allegations that a landlord failed to ensure the safety of her tenants.

The lives of a woman and her daughter were endangered due to a safety issue in the rental home. Reportedly, they went to bed around 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. on a Sunday night and did not wake up until 3:30 p.m. the next day. It was discovered the pair had been subjected to high amounts of carbon monoxide due to a faulty furnace.

Include 'digital assets' in estate planning

300-GallowayCollens-Digital-Assets-Estate-Planning-Lawyers-Weekly.jpgIn this digital age, our values have shifted to incorporate digital assets on a level similar to our personal belongings and assets. Accordingly, estate planning and its practices have changed to include these assets. Your digital footprint and memories are not only valuable to you but also your loved ones. We make great efforts to use, share and protect our online photos, files and data while we are alive, but what happens to them after we become incapacitated or die? Howard Collens helped to pass legislation in Michigan that provides guidance and allows you to address the handling of your digital assets within your estate plan. The Michigan Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act provides a method for you to grant authority to an agent under a power of attorney, a personal representative under a last will and testament, a trustee under a trust or a guardian or conservator through the probate court for access to social media, online accounts and email. You may also restrict access to digital assets through your estate plan. Galloway and Collens, PLLC is proud to have Howard Collens featured in a recent Lawyers Weekly article, "Include 'digital assets' in estate planning," addressing these concerns. If you would like to learn more on how to grant or restrict access to your digital assets, please follow the link below to read the Lawyers Weekly article.

Construction issues can plague residential real estate deals

Any real estate transaction can get instantly complicated, especially when new construction is involved. When new construction is under contract, residential real estate deals may hit snags that require legal support or intervention. Those in Michigan who are embarking on any kind of new construction project can be better prepared for the process and possible complications by being aware of what can go wrong and what to do about it before issues derail the project altogether.

Any new construction project requires a great attention to details, both regarding the actual construction and the regulations pertaining to the project. If any part of the project conflicts with municipal codes, the project may have to be paused or completely halted. Legal support can ensure code compliance and defense against claims of code violations.

Inheritances can get complicated for Michigan families

Creating an estate plan that works for every family is impossible because families vary greatly, and the needs of one will not fit the needs of all others. Because of family differences and varying dynamics, plans for inheritances can get infinitely complicated. Michigan families can explore their options for creating plans that take their unique circumstances into account to ensure members' specific inheritances are outlined and drafted as part of comprehensive estate plans.

One complication that is becoming more common is blended families. A parent may have separate property and assets that he or she wants left to his or her biological children, along with assets for a surviving spouse. In situations such as this, leaving an equal share to all children may not be feasible or be the desired outcome. This can be even more complex of a situation if parents have a child together and each has separate children. Tensions can easily arise between biological and step-children if specifics are not handled properly.

Trust administration can ensure funds are handled correctly

The transfer of wealth from one person to another, or one generation to another, can be a complicated and highly personal venture. If someone chooses to pass wealth through the use of a trust, the responsibility of trust administration is a challenging responsibility. Michigan beneficiaries and residents embarking on the process of trust creation can ensure proper trust administration by first realizing which kinds of trusts are available and may work best for their given situation.

When minor children are involved, a trust can be specifically created to care for their needs. If a child has special needs, medical or otherwise, a special needs trust can be created to take care of those concerns for years to come. This allows a parent to protect and provide for the children long after that parent is gone.

Michigan probate litigation can become complicated

After the loss of a loved one, few surviving family members have the energy to focus on legal issues or potential estate complications. However, lack of action or a misunderstanding of the probate process can result in probate litigation and other legal complications for grieving families. Michigan families can minimize conflict and head off any potential problems with professional assistance, a clear understanding of the types of probate and they may mean as far as the distribution of the decedent's assets is concerned.

In some cases in Michigan, a supervised probate will be appropriate. This will lead to a hearing before a judge. The hearing will address the assets of the estate and result in a determination regarding how assets will be distributed.

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